For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand

Summary and takeaways from the book.

The author talks of the need for reason as driving force in our modern culture.

She calls for "New Intellectuals" who will be "intellectual bodyguards" to prevent us from being looted by modern day looters in the state.

ISBN: 978-0451163080
First published: December 1, 1963
Pages: 224
Available on: amazon

Ayn Rand was an American author and philosopher. She developed a philosophical system she named Objectivism.

The book starts with a history of philosophy where the author compares different philosophies.

The author talks of tribal cultures which are controlled by force and violence by "Attila"(tribal chief) personality types; working together with "Witch Doctor" personality types that control people by mysticism and manipulation.

The author talks of pseudo-intellectuals who are "frightened zombies, posturing in a vacuum of their own making, who admit their abdication from the realm of the intellect by embracing such doctrines as Existentialism and Zen Buddhism".
The author talks of the need for reason as driving force in our modern culture.

She calls for "New Intellectuals" who will be "intellectual bodyguards" to prevent us from being looted by modern day looters in the state.

Tribal cultures

Tribal cultures and "societies were ruled by faith and its practical expression: force".

"There were no makers of knowledge and no makers of wealth; there were only witch doctors and tribal chiefs.

These two figures dominate every anti-rational period of history, whether one calls them tribal chief and witch doctor—or absolute monarch and religious leader—or dictator and logical positivist

Attila(tribal chief): uses force to rule
Witch Doctor: "dreads physical reality, dreads the necessity of practical action... visions of some mystic realm where his wishes enjoy a supernatural power".

Both Attila and Witch Doctor lack reason, and are threatened by reason.

"The physical conquest of men is Attila’s method of survival. An Attila never thinks of creating, only of taking over. Looting, seizure of goods that they have not created".

"Attila's brain is a jumble of concretes unintegrated by abstractions; the Witch Doctor’s brain is a miasma of floating abstractions unrelated to concretes. Both are guided and motivated—ultimately—not by thoughts, but by feelings and whims. Both cling to their whims as to their only certainty. Both feel secretly inadequate to the task of dealing with existence".

They always work together. Using force and mysticism to control the masses.

Their enemy is "men who think and work, who discover how to deal with existence, how to produce the intellectual and the material values it requires. These are the men whose effort is the only means of survival for the parasites of all varieties: the Attilas, the Witch Doctors and the human ballast".

The masses - the human "ballast consists of those who go through life in a state of unfocused stupor, merely repeating the words and the motions they learned from others".
Tribal cultures based on force and manipulation have no place today as they steal from productive people and demoralize and scare them.

"Thus our great industrial civilization is now expected to run railroads, airlines, intercontinental missiles and H-bomb stock piles by the guidance of philosophical doctrines created by and for barefoot savages who lived in mudholes, scratched the soil for a handful of grain and gave thanks to the statues of distorted animals whom they worshipped as superior to man".

A Culture of Producers

"The first society in history whose leaders were neither Attilas nor Witch Doctors, a society led, dominated and created by the Producers, was the United States of America.

The moral code implicit in its political principles was not the Witch Doctor’s code of self-sacrifice. The political principles embodied in its Constitution were not Attila’s blank check on brute force, but men’s protection against any future Attila’s ambition

"The Founding Fathers were neither passive, death-worshipping mystics nor mindless, power-seeking looters; as a political group, they were a phenomenon unprecedented in history: they were thinkers who were also men of action".

"a free mind and a free market are corollaries".

"Capitalism wiped out slavery in matter and in spirit. It replaced Attila and the Witch Doctor, the looter of wealth and the purveyor of revelations, with two new types of man: the producer of wealth and the purveyor of knowledge—the businessman and the intellectual".

"The professional businessman and the professional intellectual came into existence together, as brothers born of the industrial revolution. Both are the sons of capitalism—and if they perish, they will perish together".

Pseudo-intellectuals today

"Everybody seems to agree that civilization is facing a crisis, but nobody cares to define its nature, to discover its cause and to assume the responsibility of formulating a solution".

"If we ask our intellectual leaders what are the ideals we should fight for, their answer is such a sticky puddle of stale syrup—of benevolent bromides and apologetic generalities about brother love, global progress and universal prosperity at America’s expense—that a fly would not die for it or in it".

"The majority of those who posture as intellectuals today are frightened zombies, posturing in a vacuum of their own making, who admit their abdication from the realm of the intellect by embracing such doctrines as Existentialism and Zen Buddhism".

Civilizational crisis

The author describes the world of 1960's: "grayness, the stale cynicism, the noncommittal cautiousness, the guilty evasiveness of our public voices".

"In the stagnation of feudalism, with castes and guilds of serfs repeating the same motions generation after generation, the services of traveling minstrels chanting the same old legends were sufficient.

But in the racing torrent of progress which is capitalism, where the free choices of individual men determine their own lives and the course of the entire economy, where opportunities are unlimited, where discoveries are constant, where the achievements of every profession affect all the others, men need a knowledge wider than their particular specialties, they need those who can point the way to the better mousetrap—or the better cyclotron, or the better symphony, or the better view of existence

"The more specialized and diversified a society, the greater its need for the integrating power of knowledge; but the acquisition of knowledge on so wide a scale is a full-time profession".

The New Intellectuals

The author calls for New Intellectuals as "intellectual bodyguards".

"Any man or woman who is willing to think. All those who know that man’s life must be guided by reason, those who value their own life and are not willing to surrender it to the cult of despair in the modern jungle of cynical impotence, just as they are not willing to surrender the world to the Dark Ages and the rule of the brutes".
The book is about "reason, individualism, and capitalism... against today’s prevalent doctrines of mysticism, altruism, and collectivism".

"What we need most urgently is to recognize the enormous power and the crucial importance of the intellectual professions".

Emptiness of Collectivism

"What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce?".

"That's the emptiness I couldn’t understand in people. That’s what stopped me whenever I faced a committee.

Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It’s everywhere and nowhere and you can’t reason with him. He’s not open to reason. You can’t speak to him—he can’t hear. You’re tried by an empty bench. A blind mass running amuck, to crush you without sense or purpose...
Empty people with belief in group think and second hand ideas have deep and visceral dislike, and malice for independent minds.

"Notice how they’ll accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once... There’s a special, insidious kind of hatred for him. They forgive criminals. They admire dictators. Crime and violence are a tie. A form of mutual dependence. They need ties. They’ve got to force their miserable little personalities on every single person they meet. The independent man kills them—because they don’t exist within him and that’s the only form of existence they know. Notice the malignant kind of resentment against any idea that pro-pounds independence. Notice the malice toward an independent man...".

When Altruism and Collectivism loots from Producers

Deep and visceral dislike for independent minds by empty collective naturally gives way to their looting.

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago..."

"said Dr. Hendricks. “Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward

The only solution is to refuse to cooperate with those who try to impose their will on you.

"Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled".
This is what we see around us. Government intervention lowers quality and raises prices.

Rent control, student loans, COVID eviction moratoriums, are all examples of altruism and collectivism looting from producers. Everyone loses.

* * *

"Do you wish to continue a struggle that consists of clinging to precarious ledges in a sliding descent to the abyss, a struggle where the hardships you endure are irreversible and the victories you win bring you closer to destruction?"

"Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, your love—the endurance that carries their burdens—the generosity that responds to their cries of despair—the innocence that is unable to conceive of their evil and gives them the benefit of every doubt".

"The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours".

"But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past".

"When the looters’ state collapses, deprived of the best of its slaves, when it falls to a level of impotent chaos, like the mystic-ridden nations of the Orient, and dissolves into starving robber gangs fighting to rob one another—when the advocates of the morality of sacrifice perish with their final ideal—then and on that day we will return".
"The political system we will build is contained in a single moral premise: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force.

Every man will stand or fall, live or die by his rational judgment

"Do you wish to continue the battle of your present or do you wish to fight for my world?"

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